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Peoria Public Schools approves two-year probationary contract for Quest Charter Academy

PEORIA (WEEK) — Quest Charter Academy will have another chance to prove itself to Peoria Public Schools.

The PPS school district unanimously approved a probationary two-year contract with Quest at its board meeting Monday. It was one of three options presented to the board to decide on how to proceed with the charter school.

The options presented to the board were a denial of the charter, a 5-year charter renewal or a 2-year charter renewal.

The vote came after a detailed presentation from the district about Quest, pointing to areas in academics and operations where they believe the charter school has fallen short.

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Kherat openly speaking to the board and the public that she felt their report showed Quest had not met their goals academically or operationally. She said they were out of compliance with Charter School Law. One example the report pointed to was Quest hasn’t had the state mandated number of certified teachers for the past three years.

Board President Dan Adler also openly speaking against the Charter, stating the data spoke volumes, showing they were not meeting academic goals.

Quest teachers responded by pointing to the lack of communication and team work from the district. Teachers who spoke even got emotional when thinking about what they have tried to accomplish for their kids.

“I’m very frustrated hearing certain people stay and I quote this isn’t about the kids. If someone feels that way this is an about our district 150 children then they are wrong in that profession and they should get out. It also scares me because it makes me think there’s some other agenda” said Quest Charter Academy teacher, Tim Finney

Conversation between board members was tense at times. Board member Dan Walther comparing those who denied the severity of the data to climate change deniers, while Martha Ross said the data has been spun to make Quest look bad and is concerned that a two year contract sets them up for failure with insufficient time to prove themselves.

2-year contact approval

The 2-year contract serves as a probationary period for Quest “to see if it can right its ship,” according to the board’s agenda.

“The school is given fair warning that the administration will recommend non-renewal of Quest’s charter at the end of the two years” if the school does not make significant progress, according to the board’s agenda.

With this approval, PPS is taking the the stance that Quest “has failed to comply with charter school laws” and “is not in the best interest of the students the charter school is designed to serve.”

In both the denial and the 2-year contract extension, the board would have taken the official stance affirming Quest “has failed to comply with Charter School laws,” and “is not in the best interest of the students the charter school is designed to serve.”

In response to the criticism of Quest by Peoria Public Schools, Chief Development Officer Heather Oyler said over the weekend the charter school’s performance has been higher than that of Peoria High School and Manual High School.

“Maybe instead of focusing on getting rid of us and restructuring us, maybe they should focus on trying to restructure Manual and Peoria High and figure out what’s going on there,” Oyler said on Sunday.

 

Jason Howell

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